At that time, I blogged about how I had been waiting to care enough for all the work and dedication it takes to lose weight. That day came one morning on the first warm day in early April, as I opened a drawer full of shorts and tee shirts that no longer fit me, and pulled on my old ratty sweatpants, disgusted with myself.
I knew I was overweight; I thought I had about 20 lbs or so to lose. Like with so many things in life, I wasn't seeing what I didn't want to see: I had over 50 lbs to lose to get to a healthy weight. When I stood on the scale at my first Jenny Craig visit and saw how much I weighed, I cried.
When I set a weight loss goal of 55 lbs, however, I laughed. I couldn't imagine losing that much weight. I told my Jenny Craig consultant I would be thrilled to lose half that much.
I sit here one year later and 63 lbs lighter, and now I'm in a different kind of denial; I can't remember what it felt like to be heavy. That version of me seems really far away now.
My daughter had her annual physical last week, and when they weighed her the nurse looked at me and said, "Greta weighs 63 lbs! A wonderful, healthy weight for a girl her size."
It stopped me dead in my tracks. I had lost the equivalent of my eight year old daughter. For kicks I tried to pick her up, and I couldn't fathom having that much extra weight on my frame.
Just like with sobriety, it's important for me to remember, though, because the devil lies in the forgetting. I don't think much about dieting anymore, just like I don't think much about having a drink anymore. When the urge for a drink comes, one of the first things I do is conjure up a memory I'd rather forget, something that reminds me what drinking did to me.
And just like with drinking, I got into trouble with food gradually, over time, ignoring the little alarm bells that would sound ever so faintly in my head from time to time, like when I shopped for pants and had to go up a size. I told myself it was just a temporary fix until I could get that extra 20 lbs off. I did that until it was 60 lbs, not 20, that I had to lose.
And just like sobriety, I couldn't think about the end game. Losing that much weight seemed impossible. Just like never drinking again seemed impossible in the early days of recovery. Thinking about the rest of my life without alcohol sent me into despair, so I didn't think about my whole lifetime. I only thought about that hour, or that day. Little by little the hours and days turned into months, and before I knew it I was on my way.
The same thing was true with food; I couldn't imagine a lifetime of watching my weight, so I took it one meal at a time. It was hard - very hard - in the beginning. Just like with quitting drinking, I avoided restaurants, parties, social occasions that would tempt me. What I hated was that feeling of 'other than' - watching people stuff their faces with food while I nibbled on a carrot stick made me feel different, alone. It made me downright angry.
Unlike alcohol, though, I couldn't quit food altogether, so I had to learn to respect it. More than that, I had to learn to respect myself, my body, my health. My well being had to be an important enough reason not to cheat. And unlike alcohol, my life wouldn't fall apart if I snuck an extra cookie or two. I had to be enough of a reason to do the right thing.
Once I made it through the first month or so, the rewards started coming. I could dash up the stairs and not be winded. I could pull on shorts that hadn't fit me in years. I could get up in the morning and throw on a tee shirt without having to tie a sweatshirt around my waist to hide my bulk. When I was tempted, and I was tempted a lot, I would think about how temporary the gratification of eating is - how fleetingly it provides comfort, and then all I would be left with was the deflated, empty feeling of letting myself down. Somehow, I had become enough of a reason not to cheat. It felt wonderful.
Now I don't think about food that much. I eat regular food in healthy portions; I work out two or three times per week. I go to restaurants and eat a salad. I skip dessert, opting for a bite or two of one of the kids' desserts instead. Those two bites? They taste amazing.
For snacks I eat fruits and veggies and I actually like them. For dessert I'll have a sugar free popsicle, or strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream. It's just how I am now; I don't really have to think about it much.
I never, ever thought that day would come. Ever. Just like with sobriety, I couldn't have imagined how good I'd feel, once I got over the pain of adjusting. Now feeling good is its own reward. And it's more than enough.
Last April doesn't feel like very long ago. At the time, when they told me it would take at least nine months to lose the weight, I was crushed. Nine MONTHS? It seemed like forever. Now it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye. Life's funny like that.
I will always have to watch what I eat. I'm finally okay with that. The hard things in life are hard for a reason, because the rewards exceed my wildest expectations. Every time.
So if you're struggling with food, if you're waiting to care, how about now? Don't think about the end game. Just think about today. Put yourself first.
You're worth it.